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Blood & Diamonds (88 Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Blood & Diamonds (88 Films) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: December 13th, 2022.
    Director: Fernando Di Leo
    Cast: Martin Balsam, Claudio Cassinelli, Pier Paolo Capponi, Barbara Bouchet
    Year: 1977
    Purchase From Amazon

    Blood & Diamonds – Movie Review:

    In Fernando Di Leo’s 1977 crime picture, Blood & Diamonds, Claudio Cassinelli plays Guido Mauri, a thief who has spent the last half a decade behind bars after getting busted for his part in a high profile heist. It was a setup. Despite his obvious skills as a safecracker, now that he’s once again a free man, Guido wants to walk away from his past and start clean.

    Not very long after his release from the big house, Guido’s girlfriend, Maria (Olga Karlatos), is murdered by a crew of hoodlums. Guido figures that mob boss Rizzo (Martin Balsam), who runs the gang he was once so closely affiliated with, and his right hand man Tony (Pier Paolo Capponi) were the ones who made this happen. He figures it was payback for the fact that the jewels from the heist Guido got busted for never arrived in Rizzo’s possession. So sure of this is Guido that he sets up a fairly elaborate revenge plan to get back at Rizzo involving a complicated diamond theft.

    Along the way, he reconnects with former flame Lisa (Barbara Bouchet, who at one point delivers a film highlight when she shakes her money-maker while sporting a slinky white bikini), but Maria’s newly orphaned son, Enzo (Alberto Squillante), blames Guido for his mother’s death and definitely has an axe to grind with him for that very reason.

    Set to a killer score from Luis Bacalov (parts of which would later turn up in Bruno Mattei's Hell Of The Living Dead) is not the slam-bang action fest that some of his better known poliziotteschi pictures were, but it’s a well-made, tense and brooding thriller that delivers a strong mix of action and suspense. It starts off with a bang, slows down in the middle stretch a fair bit to build character development and then ramps back up for a pretty strong finish where the script, also from Di Leo, resolves things quite satisfactorily. Production values are good and the movie benefits from strong cinematography and a nice use of color. All the wonky seventies fashion and furniture you could want is on display throughout the film pretty much constantly.

    Claudio Cassinelli delivers what may not be the most charismatic performance you’ll ever see, you don’t find yourself wanting to hang out with the guy and he’s a bit of a misanthrope, but he does dark and brooding well and he works pretty well in the lead role. Olga Karlatos is great in her part but she isn’t in the movie for very long before her character is killed off. Barbara Bouchet is solid here. She looks fantastic but in addition to that delivers a very believable turn as Guido’s seemingly constantly abused gal pal. Pier Paolo Capponi is a lot of fun as Rizzo’s scenery chewing enforcer type and steals pretty much every scene that he’s involved with. Not surprisingly, Martin Balsam is also great here, he plays the heavy really well and brings a lot of character to his role.

    Blood & Diamonds – Blu-ray Review:

    Blood & Diamonds is presented on a 50GB disc with the feature using 33GBs. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition image is framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and is taken from a 4k restoration. For the most part this looks really strong. There are a few spots where things lean a little green but otherwise the colors generally appear looking quite natural. Black levels are strong as well. Detail is quite good, but this looks to have been shot with some intentional soft focus techniques used at times. Still, this looks properly like film with good depth and texture to take in. Grain appears naturally throughout and there are no problems to note with any noise reduction, compression artifacts or edge enhancement related issues.

    Audio options are provided for the film in English and Italian language 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Mono tracks with optional subtitles provided in English audio only. Audio quality is solid regardless of which option you choose. The tracks are clean, clear and nicely balanced.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary with Troy Howarth and Nathanial Thompson that talks about the strength of the opening scene, the presence of the J&B bottle right from the start, details on pretty much every member of the cast and thoughts on their performances in the movie, input on some of the themes that Di Leo explores here, why the movie was shot as Rome Caliber 9 and the parallels that can be made between this pictures and Milan Caliber 9, the film's soundtrack and specifically the song that plays during Bouchet's go-go dancing number, the film's release history, the locations that are used in the movie and plenty more.

    Up next is the excellent Journey Of Love - Discovering Fernando Di Leo, a feature length documentary that runs an hour and thirty-seven minutes. It starts off with a poetry reading before then going on to go over the biographical details of his life and upbringing, details about how he hated school, friends that he had during his younger days and then, of course, how he got into filmmaking after starting a movie club. We then learn about the impact of his military service on his career, his love both literature and cinema, where some of the ideas for his stories came from, what he was like to work with and what he was like as a person, censorship issues that some of his pictures ran into, the success of his early crime films, how he ran into trouble during the later days of his career and then, towards the end, the influence of his work on more modern filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino. Along the way we get interviews with friends, family members and people who worked with him as well as a load of archival photos and clips from his movies.

    Blood And Di Leo - A Portrait by Luc Merenda is a nineteen minute piece in which the actor looks back on the times in his career that he worked with Di Leo, discussing how they came to work together, the impression that Di Leo made on him, what his personality was like, memories of the different films that they made together and the characters that he played in them, the popularity of cop films in Italy in the seventies and lots more.

    Finishing up the extras on the disc are the Italian opening, intermission and closing Titles as well as the original Italian theatrical trailer. Menus and chapter selection options are also provided.

    It’s also worth pointing out that 88 Films has done a nice job with the packaging for this release. We get some very cool reversible cover sleeve with new artwork by James Neal on one side and the original poster art on the reverse as well as a limited edition silver board gloss slipcase with that same new artwork by Neal on the front. Inside the case accompanying the disc is a limited edition full color insert booklet with an article by Francesco Massaccesi titled Diamonds And Bills, a second essay by Andrew Graves titled Forgotten Gem and a third essay titled Roma Calibro 9 by Rachael Nisbet. There’s also an insert poster folded up inside showcasing the new and original artwork that is used on the cover sleeve.

    Blood & Diamonds - The Final Word:

    Blood & Diamonds is tense and gritty, sometimes a bit of a slow burn but well-made and benefitting from a pretty strong cast. The Blu-ray edition from 88 Films is a welcome one, presenting the film in a decent transfer and with some quality extra features detailing its history. Recommended!



    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Blood & Diamonds Blu-ray screen caps!

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